To say that I’m a travel enthusiast is probably a bit of an understatement. In just eight years, I’ve been to 51 countries. When people learn this about me, there is one question almost everyone gets around to asking:
“How can you afford to travel so much?”
Most people assume that I’m swimming in cash, or that I have a ton of debt—neither of which is true. Instead, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve that make travel affordable on just about any budget.
Many travelers looking to cut costs overlook two crucial parts of the planning process. They don’t think about the cost involved in having a particular destination in mind, and they don’t take the season into consideration. You can go just about anywhere in the world you want to go and save money, as long as you’re flexible about when you go. Additionally, you can pack up your bags and leave pretty much whenever you want, even if you’re tight on cash—so long as you’re open as to where to go.
The holidays are a popular time for travel, but many will pass up vacations completely because popularity also means high prices. Instead of giving up the idea of a winter getaway, consider visiting an otherwise expensive destination during its off-season. Not only are there fewer crowds, but you’ll probably find that the entire cost of the vacation—from airfare to lodging— can be significantly cheaper.
Need some inspiration? The following destinations are just a few ideas for amazing off-season travel:
Orlando is the theme park capital of the US, and a terrific choice if you’re planning a family trip. Growing up in Miami, I’ve been to Orlando countless times. The winter—after the holidays have passed, that is—has always been the best time for a visit, for several reasons. Prices are lower in winter compared to other seasons, and the crowds are minimal (read: short lines). The weather is also perfect. Since you’ll be spending most of your day outside, you’ll want to go when it’s likely to be cool and clear. In the summer, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be sweating buckets and dodging thunderstorms.
I’ll admit, I was initially hesitant to consider visiting Iceland in February. The idea of traveling someplace that far north during the height of winter sounded borderline crazy, but the price of the trip was too good to pass up. Once I arrived, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from the cost-saving benefits and lack of crowds, there are some other amazing things about Iceland during the winter that will actually make you want to go during the off-season. From frozen waterfalls to ice caves, Iceland in winter becomes a special kind of wonderland that’s unlike anywhere else I’ve visited—and it’s not something you can experience during any other season. The Blue Lagoon (a geothermal pool in a lava field that maintains a toasty 99–102 °F temperature year-round) is especially inviting, and you have a much better chance at seeing the northern lights during the winter months than the summer ones.
Las Vegas, Nevada
If you’re looking for a low-cost getaway this winter, consider Las Vegas. With scorching hot summers and chilly winters, it’s easy to see why Vegas is typically the most crowded (and priciest) during the spring and fall. With the exception of New Year’s Eve, travel to Vegas during the winter months can save you a good amount of money. You probably won’t be spending much time poolside, but the cost-saving benefits are certainly worth it. Not only is it usually easier to find much cheaper airfare and hotel rooms, but it’s also a great time of year to catch one of the many live shows in town (Britney Spears, Blue Man Group, and Cirque du Soleil, just to name a few). Think more availability, and lower ticket prices.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
This idyllic paradise is a bucket list destination for many, and is a particularly wonderful choice for couples looking for a romantic destination. It was on my radar for years, but I thought it would never happen because it’s just so ridiculously expensive. All of the travel guides are pretty firm about not traveling during the winter because of the fickle weather. But this is a tropical destination, which usually means unpredictable conditions year-round. A couple of years ago, I bit the bullet and went in the winter. During the entire week I was there, it rained for maybe 20 minutes. Not only did we practically have the resort to ourselves, but we saved a substantial amount of money compared to booking during peak season.
What are some of your favorite off-season travel destinations in the winter? We’d love to know!